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Another small milestone 250,000 hits

Thanks to all you wonderful people who follow my blog.

Today we notched up 250,00 hits. Nothing huge in comparison with other major international blogs but pretty big in my small little shamba. Another opportunity to thank all the kind people who read the blog, provide feedback, send me story ideas,eulogies and tributes and anything else that might interest the readership.

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NBN makes good ....

My internet worries continue: TPG sent a couple of very competent technicians and they quickly sussed out the fact that there was a break in the landline cable connecting NBN to my house. They promised to quickly return to base, contact the relevant department (because the first team "does not dig trenches and lay cable". Did not hear anything from anyone for the next six hours so I contact TPG and they breathtaking too me for a ride for the next 18 hours or so and much, much promises and pleas someone (a humble call centre operator) told me that NBN had advised TPG that the repairs of the cable would be carried out on May 22 some 16 days after the break. That is ridiculous! Surely Australians better respect, service and care for their custom ... are we really on a par with the poorest countries in Africa or the sub-continent? Why does TPG have authority to insist that NBN does the repairs within 24 hours? I can't approach NBN because my contract is with TPG. I managed things on my mobile phone until the data allocation ran out and I had to buy a $99 external drive which should run out soon and then it will be another $99 plus the month $40 bill NBN does the repairs, if they ever. Who is going to compensate me for loss internet and Foxtell? Cost of the external drive?

Thank God for Foxtell. They came promptly had one look at the cable and said "bugger that" or words to that effect and help me arrange to have a satellite connection. Now I can watch the cricket final tonight. There is a God, of course, it is not Foxtell but in my crucifixion they are some kind of saviors.

Thank you Foxtell. I am in Foxtell heaven while part of me is suffering in internet hell.

My internet is back on line ... three excellent guys from NBN replaced the broken cable and brought a smile to an old man's face,

The truth about Pio Gama Pinto and Jomo Kenyatta


How Fitz tried desperately to save
his mentor Pio Gama Pinto

Copyright © 2019 Fitzval R.S. de Souza

The views and opinions expressed in this book are the author’s own and the facts as remembered by him.


All rights reserved.


Fitz pictured in London with Pio’s widow Emma Gama Pinto when both were in pretty good
health and long before the onset of Parkinson’s disease for Pio. Both have been ailing since. Photograph by ex-Kenyan Benegal Pereira, the son of freedom fighter Eddie Pereira.

Forward to IndependenceFitz de SouzaMy Memoir

Available on Amazon



The long, long-awaited memoirs of Fitz de Souza are finally out and the book is quite brilliant. The former Deputy Speaker of the Kenya Parliament, lawyer, politician, a rather quiet man in the sometimes loud circus of politics, he was Jomo Kenyatta’s right-hand man … from the first days of the negotiations for freedom with the British Government and until the night of December 12, 1963, Kenya’s independence and for the rest of Kenyatta’s life. The President of Kenya paid great heed on the legal, political, social and societal deliberation provided by Fitz de Souza. Not only Kenyatta, but politicians of every ilk sought out the wisdom of Fitz. Goans in Kenya did not celebrate this man because they did not know him. Like his mentor Pio Gama Pinto, Fitz worked better behind the scenes but he was not afraid to speak his mind at international conferences or at local political rallies.

Thanks to his memoirs, we can now reveal exactly what happened on that fateful day in February, 1965 when Pio Gama Pinto clashed (some folks said “exchanging personal abuse”) in the corridors of Parliament House, Nairobi. Fitz writes: “It was on an afternoon in February, as I was taking a break for tea outside the Parliament building, that I heard someone calling my name. ‘Mr de Souza, come quickly please!’ Turning around I saw that a few tables away an altercation had broken out between Pio and Kenyatta. Both men were gesticulating and swearing, and as their voices rose, everyone on the veranda could hear. Tom was standing nearby, now joined by several onlookers. Pio, his face contorted with anger was shouting, ‘I’ll fix you!’ Kenyatta, equally incensed, was shouting back at him.

I knew immediately what they were arguing about: the English farms, which Pio claimed Kenyatta was grabbing. Running up behind Pio, I put both my arms around him, trying to restrain him and calm him down. When Kenyatta had gone we sat down. I warned him not to shout at Kenyatta again, as Kikuyus rarely forgive someone who becomes their enemy.

 ‘In the eyes of most Africans,’ I said, ‘you are just a Muhindi, you are perfectly dispensable, but he is not.’ I reminded him how at almost every meeting Kenyatta would ask the same rhetorical question: if a man plants a tree, who has the right to claim the fruit of that tree when it has grown? Ask any African, I told him, and they will say that Kenyatta has been very little compensated for the sacrifices and hardship he has endured in the struggle for independence. ‘If it comes to the push,’ I said, ‘there’ll be two shots fired at you and no one will remember you in a year’s time.’ Pio shook his head, ‘No, no, there would be a bloodbath.’ I said, ‘Pio, you are overestimating your position; maybe if you were a Kikuyu or a Luo, then yes, there would be a backlash, but you’ve nobody to support you; like me, you’ve no support in the Indian community and none outside it.’

Fitz knew Pio’s life was in danger because Tom Mboya (the rising star of Kenya politics and man many wanted as the next president) told him so. Fitz writes: “One night Tom took me aside and mentioned again the concern on his side, and how Pio was increasingly seen as trouble, a left-wing firebrand out to oust Kenyatta.
 ‘Once certain people realise that the possibility of Odinga succeeding Kenyatta is due to this one man,’ he said, ‘and that when the time comes, he can provide the necessary organisation to pull it off, then those same people will want to get rid of him. Take Pinto out, and the whole thing collapses like a pack of cards. (I wrote something very similar in my book Yesterday in Paradise)’ I wondered what exactly he meant by ‘take out.’ I said, ‘Tom, Pinto is a good organiser yes, but it really wouldn’t be as easy as that.’ I asked, ‘If it came to it, would you take any part in getting rid of him, whatever that means?’ Tom said no, but there were people who would. He then told me earnestly to speak to Pio and to warn him that his life was in danger.”  
According to Fitz it was the Luo leader Oginga Odinga who picked up Pio and drove him to Mombasa. A few days later Joe Murumbi turned at house where Pio was staying. Joe very, very confident that no harm would come to Pio because he would speak to Jomo Kenyatta.
Fitz writes: Pio took Joe’s advice and returned to Nairobi on the train. Pio arrived back home in Nairobi in the morning. That evening, J.D. Kali’s driver, a Kikuyu called Ndegwa, stopped by the house. Ndegwa was also with the Special Branch and drove Kenyatta too. He asked if Pio had returned. Someone told him, yes, and he drove off. Also in the house at the time was a very close friend of Pio, an African called Cheche, who had been with him in detention. Cheche acted as Pio’s bodyguard, and it was said would die for him. When Pio was told about the caller, he said he knew whom Ndegwa was and that he was trying to organise to kill him.
Perhaps the visit was a warning. If so, it did not deter Pio and he was soon busily compiling a list of farms and land which in his view had been stolen from the African people by the Government. The list would form a key part of his group’s opposition to Tom’s Sessional Paper 10. The expectation was for there to be an explosive result: a vote of no confidence against Kenyatta. I reminded Pio of Kenyatta’s strength, of the sacrifices and struggles he had made and his firm belief that the fruits of independence should be his. I said, ‘Pio, I think you have a lot of good things to say, but however much you say them, Kenyatta is not going to give up power or go away. He is a very courageous man and would fight to the death to stay leader if he had to. So don’t try to attack him morally and not expect to get on his bad side, you are just wasting your time, it is not possible to remove him.’
Pio was actually preparing the ground for the enactment by Parliament of a type of African socialism, the removal of Kenyatta and the coronation of his sworn enemy Oginga Odinga. It was never going to happen because Pio would be killed by the assassin’s bullet on February 25, 1965.
The next thing that happened was that Fitz’s life was in danger: On the 25th of February, I was in court in the middle of a case when one of my articled clerks came in looking for me. ‘What are you doing here?’ I asked him. ‘Mr de Souza,’ he whispered, ‘I am very sorry to tell you that your friend is dead.’ I knew immediately that he meant Pio. The English judge, a good friend, looked across the courtroom at me. I stood up and cleared my throat, ‘I am very sorry, but due to an unfortunate occurrence, I have to leave. The judge said, ‘I can see you are shocked. Is this about your friend Pio Pinto?’ I nodded. He said, ‘This court is adjourned.’ I went straight to Pio’s house.
Two police officers were there, the gate was closed and the car was in the driveway. Pio was inside, his body leaning to one side as if asleep at the wheel. Looking at him I suddenly thought, he’s all right after all, and reaching in, touched his shoulder, saying, ‘Pio, Pio.’ Then I saw the bullet hole. It was true; Pio was dead. That night I cried and cried. I felt really shattered. Pio had been just 38 years old, but had done so much for the country, spent seven years on Manda Island, not even allowed to see his dying father. All he had ever wanted was justice and fairness for all. He did not deserve this fate. Pio’s bodyguard Cheche came to see me later, crying, ‘Our friend is dead, our friend is dead.’ Through my day-to-day legal work, I had got to know one of the Nairobi CID officers, an Englishman. It wasn’t long before he and I had a lead. A taxi driver described some men with guns being taken recently in specially hired Fiat cars to South C where it was said, they were to ‘fix’ some trade union people. Could they also have been sent to fix Pio?
The taxi driver took the CID officer and I around the streets and within a short time had identified a young African man in a red shirt. After being placed under arrest, the 22-year-old, Kisilu Mutua, admitted to shooting Pio. My mind was full of questions. On the day Pio was killed, the end of Lower Kabete Road had been blocked off and the traffic stopped. And why, when he was found in the car, obviously preparing to leave as usual that morning, was the gate to his driveway closed? Pio was a good runner, faster than the Maasai even, at one time predicted to run for Kenya in the Olympics.
If he had got out of the car, no one would have caught him. The roadblock and the closed gate had been no coincidence. I began asking around and challenging people to find the person or persons responsible. My father was worried. ‘Fitz you must be careful,’ he urged me, ‘they might want to shoot you too.’ I said, ‘Look I’ve known Kenyatta for years, been his lawyer and helped him.’ My father replied, ‘People can forget things.’ I could not, in any case, believe that Kenyatta would have wanted Pio dead.
About two weeks had gone by when walking on the street past the Standard Bank in Nairobi one day, I heard someone behind me. I looked around and saw Bruce McKenzie hurrying to catch up with me. His manner was friendly, chatting about general things, but I sensed something more, something he wanted to say. Bruce was a big man, with a strong handshake that overpowered you, and I felt that strength in him now. ‘Fitz,’ he said, ‘I like you very much, you’re a good friend.’ I said, ‘Bruce, have you been sent to talk to me about Pio.’ He nodded. I said, ‘To warn me, that if I carry on asking questions, the same is going happen to me?’ Bruce said yes, this was the message he had been asked to give me. Then Mungai came to see me. He was a mysterious figure, some hinted he had been a Mau Mau leader, others a Government spy. Telling me that I was now on a ‘wanted list’, he reached in his pocket and took out a pistol, complete with licence, advising me to keep it for protection.
I had been under threat before when Pio had been arrested and I had driven across the border to Uganda. The concern then was possible imprisonment. This was different. Pio was gone, and Bruce had come to tell me, on whose authority I did not know, that I could be next. Mungai had confirmed it. I had seen Pio’s limp body carried from his car, the small hole in his body where the bullet had entered, witnessed Emma’s shock and grief. As the reality of the danger, I was in hit me, I became very nervous. I took some Valium, and not knowing what else to do booked into the Hilton Hotel. Nowhere in Nairobi was completely safe, but here at least there were people around, I could stay behind a locked door. How long for though? I would have to come out sometime. I thought carefully. I was getting married in a few months. Now there were not just my parents, my brother and sister and myself to think of, but also my future wife Romola – our future lives together and in time, probably a family of our own. After a few days, I let it be known that I was no longer pursuing my inquiries, checked out of the hotel and went home. I hid Mungai’s pistol in a strongbox behind a loose brick in the wall and kept the key in my pocket. Still anxious and in shock, I decided to go to England and from there, seeking a complete change of scene, take a trip to Scandinavia. At that time permission was needed to take money out of the country, so I rang Kenyatta to ask if it could be arranged. Yes, yes, he said, and gave me the name of someone who could help. Talking to Kenyatta, he was clearly very distressed and crying over the phone. When I broached the question of who might be responsible he said, ‘Do you think I could possibly have murdered my own friend?’ and said he had been equally shocked by what had happened.  A couple of weeks later I returned for Pio’s funeral. The mourners were mostly Africans and church people. Kenyatta, who was not expected to attend, sent an ivory carving in tribute. Joe Murumbi was full of remorse, blaming himself for persuading Pio to leave the beach house at Mombasa and come back to Nairobi that day. While Pio’s alleged killer languished behind bars, sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment, there were whispered rumours that the ‘powers that be’ had organised the assassination, or the Kiambu Mafia, CIA or foreign governments, and the riddle remained unanswered.
Before now, not many people knew of Fitz’s attempts to save Pio Gama Pinto or that even Fitz’s life was threatened. All this and more, my hero kept it all to him self.
The deaths first of Pio and then later of Tom Mboya and J.M. Kariuki destroyed Fitz as a politician and he quiet resigned from politics and focused on his law firm.




  






What makes a Goan, a Goan?


My Goa: What makes a Goan a Goan? (An excerpt from Fitz de Souza’s Forward to Independence)

Copyright © 2019 Fitzval R.S. de Souza

The views and opinions expressed in this book are the author’s own and the facts as remembered by him.


All rights reserved.

For my mother, Goa was probably the place she felt most at home. My father too had often talked about returning there. I remember when we lived in Nairobi, how he would sometimes pace up and down at night, talking about going back and restoring the fortunes and proud reputation of the family liquor business, for which our ancestors had won medals and plaudits. I had said at one point that I did not think we should earn money from such a trade.
I had left Goa as a young child, but growing up I was aware of a rich heritage, the Indian and the European, the Hindu and the Christian. On returning to Goa for the first time in 1959, after 30 years, I was surprised at how many things I saw fitted with my memories. I found the caste system was very strong. I remember when I arrived all these fellows of the lower caste came to see me, about 30 or 40 of them. My mother said we were supposed to give them some food and liquor, so we made some toasted grams and they all ate and drank feni and sang praises to me.
Hearing all this I decided to make a speech, which I had been thinking about for a long time. ‘Listen,’ I told them, ‘all this caste system is rubbish; we are no more bhatkars than you are mundkars.’ Bhatkar meant landlord, and mundkars were originally people with no property rights, whose houses could be pulled down and the materials taken by the landowner.
After Indian independence, the law had changed so that if you had lived somewhere for three years you could buy the land and house, which was right I think. After I had made the speech, the fellows cheered me. Noticing they were all still standing, I said, ‘You chairs brought out. Not one of them would sit. I said, ‘Look, I’m telling you, you’ve got to sit down we are all equal.’ ‘Yes, thank you,’ they replied, ‘but we cannot sit, our fathers would object.’ I said, ‘Your fathers are not here.’ But they told me it would also bring a curse: that I was after all more than a landlord and an employer – I was their bhatkar: their philosopher, their guide.      
 What makes a Goan? Being born and bred in Goa was always the natural and obvious qualification. I mentioned earlier however that many, perhaps most Goans, considered themselves to be Portuguese rather than Indian, Christian rather than Hindu. I sometimes used to ask such people, ‘Who made you Portuguese?’ to which they replied, ‘The law.’ There was some truth in this, and it may have been Salazar that allowed the Christians access to better schools and other advantages, prompting Goan families to convert. Further back in history, Christianity and the Portuguese identity was also spread by soldiers sent out to bolster Goa’s military strength.
(Fitz and his family spent a lot of time in the later years in their stunning home in Donna Paulo (???)






FITZ DE SOUZA: The greatest Goan I have ever known

Fitz de Souza: Kenyatta’s right
hand man reveals all in memoir


Fitz photographed by Benegal Pereira

From left Benegal Pereira (ex-Kenya), Fitz (battling Parkinson's), his wife Romola and Shiraz Durrani writer of the opus on Pio Gama Pinto

Joe Murumbi, Fitz, Robert Ouko at a UN conference

Fitz and I when I visited his Goa home a few years ago
Oginga Odinga, Joe Murumbi, Jomo Kenyatta and others at Lancaster House
Daniel arap Moi with Michael Blundell who represented the settlers at the conference


Fitz de Souza (glasses) seated with Jomo Kenyatta addressing the Lancaster House Conference





Forward to Independence
Fitz de Souza
My Memoirs
Available on Amazon

By Cyprian Fernandes

Copyright © 2019 Fitzval R.S. de Souza

The views and opinions expressed in this book are the author’s own and the facts as remembered by him.


All rights reserved.
THE FIRST time I read the name Fitz de Souza was in a newspaper when I was nine years old (1952). A visiting priest at St Teresa’s Boys School, Eastleigh, was encouraging me to read newspapers, magazines and books. Two names caught my young eye: de Souza (because he was a Goan) and Jomo Kenyatta (because he was the most frightening leader of the human blood drinking Mau Mau).  The newspaper report was about the court case in which (Kapenguria) six alleged leaders of the Mau Mau were being charged.  To this day, I can remember the shivers that ran down my spine as my young, immature mind tried to make sense of it.
Anyway, the horrors would soon disappear as I would take courage from “my friends” the children of the Mau Mau who had taken over the valley adjacent to my school. It there that I learnt the other side of the story … or at least the little that my little mind could understand. I got to know things better as time went by.
Over the next few years, I would occasionally see de Souza’s name in newspaper stories. They did not make a very big impression on me but I was curious how a Goan (the Goans I knew were not known for their interest in African nationalism or the fight for Kenya’s freedom).  A few years after Uhuru in 1963, I found myself in the press gallery of the Kenya Parliament while on a Nation training exercise. I would come to Parliament full-time a few years later. Down below was Fitz de Souza, the Deputy Speaker, Sir. Over the next five or six years, my admiration grew and grew for this articulate, quietly studios, legally precise, the Solomon of all things Parliamentary, and a brilliant lawyer at that. It is little wonder then, I have been enthralled by his memoir. I have always thought of him as the greatest Goan I have known. Some Goans laughed at me. But I am not alone. My all-time favourite journalist,  Hilary Ng’weno, in the preface to the book writes: “The story you read in this book is not just about Fitz. It is a story about the foundations of the Kenya nation. And it is for that reason that I feel very strongly that Fitz Remedios Santana de Souza will forever remain a legend for many Kenyans.”  Ng’weno ​​is a journalist and former editor of The Daily Nation and  The Weekly Review, founder of  The Nairobi Times and video producer.
The history of his ancestors, especially his mother and father and their safari to a new world and their new life, Fitz’s own path taken in schooling, finding his calling to law at a very early age and achieving it make the new worlds of Europe an education and an adventure … are all filled with charm, laughter, naivety, and, of course, very special resolve. However, it is Fitz’s fly on the wall, eyewitness revelations that serve history best.
The colonial propaganda machine had been frighteningly successful in demonising Kenyatta and the Mau Mau. In his memoir, Fitz once-and-for-all smashes the colonially created demonization: “Kenyatta would tell me many times, ‘Fitz, I am not the leader of Mau Mau, I do not believe in violence. I believe you can achieve your goals without violence. But in any political party there are always some who believe you have to go further, you have to fight, and I know who they are – they are my friends, they are in this party, they are with us all the time. But I am not going to do the job for the British Government and expose them and fight against them.’ When asked by the British to condemn those who practised violence, he would do so, but only in general terms, never naming names. ‘The British would like us [Africans] to fight with each other and make this into a semi-civil war; they killing our supporters and we killing their supporters, and I am not going to allow that at all. I know what I want and they know what they want, our objectives are the same…’ It seemed then that the only disagreement between Kenyatta and those who supported the Mau Mau was the means to those objectives. ‘They think I am too mild, and I think they are picking on something that is not necessary and creating too much pain and suffering.’
The Kenyatta philosophy: Fitz deftly tries to explain why Kenyatta was so adamant that the Kikuyu should be among the first share in the spoils of Uhuru: “Kenyatta had recognised the very strong loyalties that lay beneath the surface of Kenyan politics a long time ago, and in his view, the country had to be ruled by a coalition of tribes, under whatever collective party name. He felt that through this process the Kikuyu would dominate, and would say as much in political meetings, his rhetoric along the lines that if you have fought for the independence of Kenya, you have planted a tree and watered it with your blood, so who should receive the fruits of that tree? As expected, the answer would come: ‘He who fought for them.’ And if you slaughtered a cow for a feast, which person should have the best parts? ‘He who slaughtered the cow.’ Very many people agreed. Having worked so hard for freedom, been imprisoned for nine years and given decades of his life to his nation’s struggle, Kenyatta felt it was his right to have the best. Few could question his industry and commitment, and without him, it was unlikely the national movement would have taken off. So many Africans had emerged from detention with nothing, having lost businesses, property, social position and support. It was only to be expected that they would endorse Kenyatta and seek something for themselves now.”
Fitz had a lot of time Oginga Odinga and two got on quite well: This is Fitz’s take on the Luo leader: “Tom Mboya and Oginga Odinga were two totally different personalities. Odinga, a 50-year-old Luo chief, was warm-hearted and affectionate, and more of a humorist than a socialist I would say. He loved people, helped them in whatever way he could, and had nothing against money, seeing the creation of wealth as a way forward. He had started a bus service from Kisumu and given it to an Indian to run, and also set up a Luo thrift society. I think he was keen on everyone having a better life all round. As leaders do, he liked to show himself off but didn’t seem vain, preferring traditional African dress rather than, like some, the most expensive modern suits and shoes. Odinga’s only real flaw I would say was a tendency to lose his head occasionally, and speak too strongly and emotionally.”
Tom Mboya for President: Fitz often found himself, sometimes unwittingly slap bang in the middle of various conspiracies, both good and bad. Kenyans may not know this, but once upon a time, Charles Njonjo touted Tom Mboya for President. Here is Fitz’s eye witness account. “What Tom (Mboya) saw in Charles Njonjo was an opportunity. Like Bruce, he realised that Charles’s bearing, outward intelligence and ability to express himself could be used for political gain. He also assumed that Charles had no ambitions. When Charles called me to have tea with him one day at the Queen’s Hotel (in Nairobi), I arrived to find Tom there also. ‘Fitz I have something very serious to say to you,’ announced Charles. ‘Tell your friend not to back that old man as President of Kenya.’ By ‘my friend’ I knew he meant Pio, and the ‘old man’ was Kenyatta. ‘Why?’ I asked. ‘Because,’ replied Charles in his lordly tone, ‘he is totally incompetent, he’s senile.’ ‘But who could you put in his place?’   ‘He’s sitting right here, Tom is the man.’    Exactly who had first latched onto who was hard to say, but both men had now shown their hand, to me at least. Charles clearly saw Tom as likely to be the next leader of the country, and perhaps a place for himself in a future Government. Charles’s use of the word ‘President’ was not accidental. Kenyatta had spoken to me about how he saw leadership. He believed strongly that just as you could not have two chiefs in one household, a country could not have two leaders. On the 1st of June 1964 he amended the constitution, and on the 12th of December, one year after independence, Kenya was declared a republic, with the office of Prime Minister replaced by that of President, a position Kenyatta automatically assumed, making him Head of State, Head of the Government and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. Odinga was appointed Vice-President. One of the senior figures in the rival KADU party, Moi, whose fellow Kalenjins occupied much of the prime Rift Valley land, was promoted to Minister for Home Affairs. At the same time, KADU was dissolved and merged with KANU. There was now no clear official opposition.”
Fitz reveals for the first time how that land settler fund was established by the British Government to buy out white farmers who were leaving the country after independence: “As the discussions at 1962 Lancaster House Constitutional Conference wore on, it was clear that a major remaining stumbling block was the European settler community. The British Government told us plainly: the only way they could give us independence was if we could promise the farmers that we would pay them for their land, buy them out in other words. They had calculated the value of £36 million. That sounds like nothing today but was a fortune in 1962. I said, but we don’t have the money. No, they said, we’ll give you the money. Good God, I said, we could never afford to pay it back. They said, who’s asking for it back? We don’t want it back, we want to give it to you, and every year we’ll write a bit off until the whole lot is written off. We don’t want the British here to say we called you Mau Mau, and now we’re giving you money! You must buy the land from the European farmers on a ‘willing buyer and willing seller’ basis. So when they are willing to sell, you buy. Thus would come into being the Land Settlement Board, under Chairman Norman Feather of the Standard Bank, with the British Consular General and Moi, appointed to the post by Kenyatta, as committee members.”
Another little known aspect of the Lancaster House conference was the mystery Odinga: in some photos he is seated next Jomo Kenyatta and other he seated behind him. In most photos, JK is seated next to Fitz … explains: “Kenyatta, now around 70 years old, was also well aware of young Tom Mboya’s appeal and potential as a leadership contender. At Lancaster House, knowing Tom’s gift for oratory, he urged me not to let him take the stage but to answer every question myself and not worry that people might think I was talking too much. That wouldn’t have been a problem for me, as once I start talking I just can’t stop, but because of the seating layout, if I sat next to Kenyatta, Odinga would have to sit behind us. I told Kenyatta this wouldn’t be fair to Mr Odinga, who was Vice-President of KANU, while I was nowhere in the party. Odinga though seemed unconcerned and told me not to worry: ‘Fitz, I know you’re a good man and you’re not going to take my job. I’ll sit behind you, and if there’s a photo opportunity I’ll just put my head out in front.’ I assured him there was no need to do that; whenever any pictures were being taken he must take his rightful place and have my seat. He appreciated this and was a humble man in that sense, willing to step back from his official position and let someone else speak.  And speak I did! Anyone looking back over the minutes of the Lancaster House Conferences of 1962 and 1963 will probably find I talked more than anyone else. There were more technical discussions than anything else, trying to find compromise between the numerous communities – Indians, Muslims, Hindus, KANU, KADU, the two European parties, the Mau Mau party, which wanted independence at the coast, and the Kenya Freedom Party, supporting KANU and the Congress Party. The sharpest division was between the two large power blocs: KADU, which wanted Kenya to have a localised system of administration or ‘majimbo’, Swahili for regions, and KANU, which under Kenyatta wanted a centralised, national authority to govern the whole country.”
There was a time when JK preferred the company of Odinga. Fitz explains: “When official meetings were finished, we talked over the day’s events, or socialised a little. Kenyatta, avoiding Tom Mboya and Njoroge Mungai, his personal physician, spent most evenings drinking on the veranda of his hotel room with Odinga. Kenyatta drank only VAT 69. He joked it was the Pope’s phone number. They would sit and chat for hours, and being both older, I think felt they understood one another. It would transpire that Kenyatta wanted Odinga as his number two, as Finance Minister in the new Government. When the British overruled this, however, he accepted their wishes, and it shocked us all that he gave in just like that. We realised Kenyatta was very fond of Odinga in a way, while at the same time he wanted to make sure he was the right man, who would implement and support his own policies. There was only one other person close to Kenyatta during the Lancaster House conferences; anyone wishing to see the Kikuyu leader at his hotel had first to get past Achieng Oneko, who slept in the next room, barring the door with his bed. With the continued death threats against Kenyatta, it was the mild-mannered Oneko who was, literally, putting his life on the line for him.”

Fitz’s own hopes and dreams for an independent Kenya are best described in the final page of his legal thesis: ​“The future of East Africa is certainly not a dark one, and after many years of strife, the possibilities of a political settlement are in sight. East Africa, where races and civilizations from three continents meet, provides a challenge to its people: the evolution of a new way of life based on liberty, tolerance and equality of opportunity for the individual, far from the frustration and bitterness of racial intolerance and domination. In a world where East and West continually meet, East Africa can provide a beacon light to the people of the world who have yet to learn to live peacefully and to adapt their different ways of life in a new and fast contracting world.”



There are lots of other stories Kenyans will definitely be fascinated by. Get the book.

·         Cyprian Fernandes was one of the first Chief Reporters of the Nation, he was also the first to travel the world on foreign assignments. He now lives in Sydney, Australia.



The in-between African Goans

The in-between world of African Goans
By Vivek Menezes

(I am a great fan of the huge body of work by Goa-based writer Vivek Menezes. He leaves many wannbes in his wake.)

Why do you call me “guest”
When here I have my home,
When here my father lived and died,
My mother too, and a brother?
Their graves lie there within this City’s bounds,
Where I myself was born,
My children too – all three of them.
Must they and I leave this land,
Be strangers to it
Because your skin is black and mine and theirs is brown,
Your folk came here some scores of years ere ours?

                       To the African: No Guest am I, by J. M. Nazareth (1975)

 
At the cusp of the 1990’s, while meant to pursue graduate studies in London, my attentions instead swivelled to an alluring young woman who had been born in Kampala a quarter-century earlier, and our subsequent courtship drew me into the in-between world of the African Goans. It was my first extended encounter with these Indians twice removed, the first time voluntarily from our collective palm-shaded Konkan homeland, but then with haunting consequence from “good old days” in the British and Portuguese colonies in Africa. The double exile was bedrock to their identity. I found myself surrounded by men and women utterly riven with melancholy, whose eyes brimmed with tears whenever the Swahili love song Malaika played (which was often). Home was liminal, the heart was elsewhere. Only loss was omnipresent. 

It took some time to realize these collective doldrums were triggered by an exceptional history, and there really is nothing else quite like the case of the “Afrikanders” in the annals of globalization. In the first place, they had poured out from Goa Africa in response to an urgent opportunity which seems inconceivable from our 21st century vantage, what Sir Harry Johnston (Special Commissioner in Uganda from 1899-1901) enthusiastically referred to as “an America of the Hindu.” In her excellent ‘Community, Memory, and Migration in a Globalizing World: The Goan Experience 1890-1980, the historian Margaret Frenz says these “subaltern elites” became “an interstitial category, neither simply imperial handmaidens nor subordinates, neither solely exploiters nor exploited. This makes them a rather exceptional group…Goans played a remarkable role in the administration of both the British and Portuguese Empires, constituting the ‘backbone’ of local government structures.”

But just when the going became genuinely good, then came the fall. After the mother countries of the subcontinent wrenched freedom at midnight in 1947, decolonization loomed inevitable in the African colonies as well. Here too the colonizers manoeuvred cynically to divide and rule. As the advocate J. M. Nazareth summarized in his biting, mournful ‘Brown Man Black Country: On the Foothills of Uhuru’ (Tidings Publications, 1981), “when the drums of freedom sounded in India their echoes were heard in Africa. The British lost no time in planting a wedge between Indians and Africans. Suddenly they developed concern for the “native”…The greatest triumph of European racism was the way it succeeded in deflecting African hostility from the European to a helpless scapegoat.”

The Goans of Africa were blindsided and betrayed. Their universe of meaning became calamitously disrupted. Even many decades later, the wary community I encountered in London were almost visibly cloaked with the bitter lessons of their forfeiture, still pulled tight against the winds of change. As Ivo de Figueiredo writes in the wonderfully sensitive ‘A Stranger At My Table’ (DoppelHouse Press, 2019), his new memoir centered on his Kenyan Goan father, “The harsh truth was that now my family became redundant people, mere slag from the grinding wheel of history. They were a people with origins, history, but no territory of their own. The empires that had created them had gone and now they were left standing among the colonial ruins under the scorching sun.”

Yet, there were some fantastic twists to the Afrikander saga. While the majority fled westward in difficult circumstances – de Figueiredo’s father eventually settled in Norway - many stayed, to plunge directly into idealistic nation-building. One outstanding example is Mapusa-born Aquino de Bragança, who was a leading campaigner for the freedom of Mozambique, and was eventually killed in an unexplained plain crash while accompanying President Samora Machel in 1986. About him, Nelson Mandela famously said, “He was a great revolutionary. Aquino prepared the ground.” But there were several other outstanding Afrikander anti-colonialist freedom fighters, two of whom were similarly assassinated in murky circumstances, both of whose memories have been kindled by recent books.

By far better known is the subject of Shiraz Durrani’s quirky, fascinating ‘Pio Gama Pinto: Kenya’s Unsung Martyr 1927-1965’ (Vita Books, 2018). This selfless, unrelenting Kenyan patriot was hailed by the Indian communist leader Romesh Chandra as “a bridge between India and Africa” who “demonstrated the oneness of the anti-imperialist battle, the solidarity of Asia and Africa, of India and Africa.” That transnational fluidity, an essential Afrikander characteristic, is nicely described in Rozario Gama Pinto’s contribution to Durrani’s book, which admits the family “produced a number of dedicated nationalists…our late uncle Mathias da Gama Pinto in Brazil and our sister, Mrs Sevigne Athaide [in India].”

Pio had explicitly linked those worlds by participating in civil disobedience in Dharwad in the 1940s, then fiercely abetting Goa’s liberation movement, before dedicating himself to anti-imperialism in his beloved Kenya. His brother writes, “When the African-American leader, Malcolm X visited…he found he had a lot in common with Pio. They planned a common strategy to deal with the daily humiliation and indignities suffered by both Africans and African-Americans. Malcolm X was assassinated on 21 February 1965, three days before Pio. Their murders are linked in that both were considered dangerous to vested interests.”

There is anther Afrikander revolutionary story more extraordinary still, which is now available in English for the first time via Texas-based translator D. A. Smith’s deft rendering of the Portuguese journalist (no relation to her Norwegian namesake) Leonor Figueiredo’s ‘Sita Valles: A Revolutionary Until Death’ (Goa 1556).

If the Cuban revolution found its photogenic martyr in Che Guevara, his Goan counterpart was this glamorous ‘Passionária de Angola’ who was “always at the centre of the whirlwind.” in the communist student movement in Portugal, and the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola guerrillas. Figueiredo writes, “The international backdrop was complex, polarized between the two great powers, each seeking spheres of influence.” Valles “was at the forefront of the action, taking pleasure in walking the razor’s edge.” In the end, the 26-year-old Goan was kidnapped by the forces she supported, and executed in “a ceremony of catharsis.”Her contemporary is quoted, “There was a large dose of vengeance in her death... She was an uncontrollable force.”

Via email, Smith shared some interesting insights with me, “I don't think Sita Valles as a person, or the circumstances in which she lived, can be treated in simple, dichotomous terms. One of the strongest impressions I had while working on this translation was of the difficulty in making definitive statements about Sita's life, and not only because there are gaps in her personal history. Single-minded as she may have appeared to those who knew her, she was not just a communist, just an Angolan, or just a revolutionary; she was all of those and more. Her story gave me a greater appreciation of the necessity of context, not only as applied to translation, but to life in general. Without at least some understanding of the variables surrounding a situation, it is far too easy to jump to conclusions or make faulty judgments.”

The black Indo-Portuguese is an utter radical, he has gained much from Constitution.
              Richard Burton, Goa and the Blue Mountains (1851)

Examine the comparative histories of British and Portuguese colonial history in India, and one great distinction leaps out that made all the difference. After an admittedly spectacular heyday in the 16thand 17thcenturies, Portugal lost its ability to project significant power and influence across the oceans, marking the latter centuries of its 451-year hold on the Estado da India by painful compromise, replete with hugely significant political concessions.

Starting from the early 19th century, the Goans seized and zealously defended effectively equal rights of citizenship to their Iberian counterparts, which conspicuously horrified the Raj’s racists. Within a couple of generations, self-confident and assertive, they were spanning across the Indian Ocean, sparking resistance in their turbulent wake. In 1907, Armand de Souza founded the Morning Leader newspaper in Ceylon, which he is credited for using to provoke “the awakening of the Singhalese” against the British. A few years later in France, Tristão de Bragança Cunha set himself up as what the eminent historian K. M. Panniker called “nationalist India’s first ambassador”, tirelessly advocating for Gandhi and the end to colonialism.

The same phenomenon played out amongst Afrikanders with impressively lasting effects into our times. Mozambique-born anticolonial novelist Orlando da Costa’s son Antonio is currently the socialist Prime Minister of Portugal. There are three current members of the UK Parliament who share kindred roots: Labour’s Keith and Valerie Vaz were born in Aden (which is in Yemen, but administered alongside British East Africa), and across the aisle at the forefront of the Brexiteers is Suella Fernandes Braverman, whose Kenyan Goan father made it to the UK in 1968. London’s Deputy Mayor Shirley Rodrigues was actually born in Nairobi.

But while politicians abound amongst the Afrikanders, it took an entire generation’s passing for significant art and literature to emerge from the community’s trauma. Next month, the 2019 Whitney Biennial in New York will prominently feature the versatile 39-year-old Kenyan-Goan-Canadian artist, Brendan Fernandes, whose artworks often refer to his multi-layered heritage. But the most significant turning point comes this week itself, when Ivo de Figueiredo’s unforgettable memoir is published in English for the first time on April 23. There is delicious irony the long-awaited “great Afrikander book” has emerged most unexpectedly in in Scandinavia, first written in Norwegian by the biographer of Norway’s most cherished cultural icons: Henrik Ibsen and Edvard Munch.

En Fremmed Ved Mitt Bord was nominated for the 2016 Brage Prize, Norway’s most prestigious literary honour, which its author previously won for his biography of Johan Bernhard Hjort, the reformed fascist who is yet another vital figure in the making of Norway’s much-envied social democracy. The accolades are deserved, because Figueiredo is an impressively sophisticated writer, who has been especially acclaimed for his language skills (this new book won the 2016 Språakprisen for excellence in Norwegian). Born in 1966, he’s an important part of Norway’s stellar contemporary cohort of verfabula specialists, pushing narrative nonfiction into the high art category classically reserved for novels and poetry. Notable contemporaries include Karl Ove Knausgåard, the international publishing phenomenon whose six-volume autobiography plumbs the extreme limits of versimilitude, and Åsne Seierstad, author of The Bookseller of Kabul, which topped global bestseller charts even as its details became heatedly contested by its main subject.

 That formidable pedigree shows itself in the literary chops exercised throughout A Stranger at my Table, which swoops meaningfully in, out and around Xavier Hugo Ian Peter de Figueiredo as he scatters far from his birthplace of Stone Town in Zanzibar to Langesund (literally “the long fjord”) on the Telemark coastline of Norway, in ultimately doomed pursuit of permanent new life with the sparkling, adventuresome young woman he had met in London. Here he is in a black and white photograph on the book’s very first page, where his son tells us “I’ve come to think of him as a stranger, some guy who lived with us for a few years, and then disappeared…An Indian in the Norwegian snow. Dressed for the city in a snowdrift in the middle of the forest. For years I’ve looked at this picture and felt it safest that he stays there, at a distance, frozen, tranquil, before the snow melts and stirs everything into motion.”

These are understandable sentiments, when you take into account the intervening childhood traumas. Figueiredo writes, “Dad demanded that we speak English, demanded that we sing and sit in the park together, demanded we be a happy family. We never knew quite what to say, but defended ourselves as best we could. In Norwegian…He was against us, and we were against him. We made detours around him to get peace. Useless, of course, because he was still there with his over-sized emotions.” Finally, “His need for control over the family was boundless, whether he was happy or angry. He began hitting her.” And most heartbreaking, “He had gotten everything he wanted. He had every reason to be optimistic. The future lay before him like a bright Norwegian summer’s day. But that was not enough. We were not enough.”

Painful experience has taught us alienation shadows migration, vesting multifold in successive generations. There is already vast literature in this vein: a million Naipauls now, and forever. But Figueiredo’s book is different, lifted by immensely moving feats of empathy in reaching across time and half the world to plunge towards his father’s long-abandoned Afrikander universe of meaning, as well as an uncommon willingness to lay bare the confusions, failures and humiliations that plagued his quest. A Stranger at my Table is packed with with ultimately endearing embarrassments: the earnest Goan-Norwegian wimps out of visiting his grandmother’s Nairobi grave (in what is now a murderous neighborhood), crashes fruitlessly through jungle in inappropriate shorts while his sandals fill with blood, cringes uncomfortably with “shame burning in my cheeks” in his ancestral village of Saligao in Goa.

At no point does Figueiredo stop doubting himself, “The truth is I haven’t a clue; I am just arbitrarily clutching arbitrarily at the myriad threads that lead from me and Dad to the dead and long forgotten. In tearing at these threads, I tug at handfuls of stems and greenery, and hack at branches to penetrate the vegetation. Will I really get closer to Dad, closer to myself, battling through this thorny jungle in search of a relative who rotted away and evaporated into the ether long ago? This jungle is too vast, our family tree like a giant tangle of branches that fill the horizon, that stretches across oceans and continents, across centuries, so large that it spans the rise and fall of empires, the birth and death of nations, the release of slaves, the displacement of peoples. And if Dad is one thread in this vast tangle, then I am dangling at the end of it, over an empty void.”

When I connected with him at home in Norway, Figueiredo told me via email, “I did what I had postponed too long. I asked: What the hell happened with my dad? And as I startedpulling that thread, all this other stuff came tumbling down…During the writing process it was as if the ongoing globalization outside me calibrated with the inherited globalization within me.” It’s rather a beguiling image, the writer coming into balance by acts of imagination. 

A Stranger at my Table contains these lines, “Sometimes we open a door that ought to have remained closed. There are thresholds we ought never to step over, choices that are irrevocable. And we know that immediately the door is opened, the step taken, the decision made, nothing will ever be as it was before.” The literature of India’s diaspora is greatly enriched by this acclaimed Norwegian author’s leap of faith into his father’s lost history, the vivid lore of the African Goans.

(note: the version of this essay in Mint Lounge is slightly abridged)

Fitz de Souza memoir ... a bestseller, surely


Forward to Independence, the long-awaited memoir by the outstanding Goan lawyer and parliamentarian, Fitz de Souza, is available on Amazon. I am absolutely delighted with it and I would urge anyone who has had even the flitting interest in Kenyan politics, Kenyan-Goan nostalgia and role that Fitz de Souza played in the early life independent Kenya … please read this book. It will also prove a worthwhile eye-opener for the sons and daughters and ex-East African Goans. Fitz has a delightful writing style, sort of emulates the person that he is. It is his journey which starts with his ancestors in Goa, his father’s move to Zanzibar and family’s life …and there is heaps and heap more revel in. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I am doing. The Kindle version is very inexpensive.
As an appetiser, Fitz, once and for all, smashes the myth (or demonisation or false accusation) the Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s first president belonged to Mau Mau freedom fighters. Here is an excerpt:

“Kenyatta would tell me many times, ‘Fitz, I am not the leader of Mau Mau, I do not believe in violence. I believe you can achieve your goals without violence. But in any political party there are always some who believe you have to go further, you have to fight, and I know who they are – they are my friends, they are in this party, they are with us all the time. But I am not going to do the job for the British Government and expose them and fight against them.’ When asked by the British to condemn those who practised violence, he would do so, but only in general terms, never naming names. ‘The British would like us [Africans] to fight with each other and make this into a semi-civil war; they killing our supporters and we killing their supporters, and I am not going to allow that at all. I know what I want and they know what they want, our objectives are the same…’ It seemed then that the only disagreement between Kenyatta and those who supported the Mau Mau was the means to those objectives. ‘They think I am too mild, and I think they are picking on something that is not necessary and creating too much pain and suffering.’

‘It was believed the actual leaders of the Mau Mau were Kubai and Kaggia. This surprised me, as Kaggia was one of the priestly types, with a church following. But why then, we asked, are you trying to prosecute Kenyatta? He replied that this was his instruction since the whole Kenyan African movement was seen as directly or indirectly part of the terrorist organisation. I understood later how those on the outside, probably because of Kenyatta’s effervescent personality and his long campaign for land reform, might have assumed this. People were certainly inspired by him, but if it went further and aroused them to violence, was that his responsibility? It is important here to remember the frightening nature of the Mau Mau, and how any connection to them, however tenuous, could utterly poison a person’s reputation. The atrocities themselves were terrifying enough, but alongside the slaughter and intimidation of fellow Africans, the secret rituals, taking the oath while drinking the blood of a cow, a cat or even a human, however exaggerated in the public imagination, opened a deeper dimension, with haunting ideas of ‘black magic’, dehumanisation and a reversion to centuries-old barbarities.

Trevor Almeida, Aussie eco movie maker


Trevor Almeida's Film, Secrets of the Kimberley, Winner of the 2018 Best Ecosystem Film

Trevor Almeida is the son of Alfreida (Class of 55) and Bona Almeida (ex Nairobi), Melbourne, Australia

Abstract: Scientists and artists attempt to explore the isolated Kimberley marine region through some innovative photographic techniques and randomly discover a new natural world. The Kimberley is one of the most ecologically diverse areas of the world. Its marine ecosystems are amongst the world’s most pristine. At 424500 square kilometres, the Kimberley is bigger than Italy or Germany and it has over 3000 uninhabited islands. This documentary takes you on an expedition into this remote region with a team made up of an artist and scientists. What they find redefines their values and how they view the natural world. It showcases one of the last great wilderness areas through incredible wildlife-great and small.


Trevor has been producing films, video and interactive media for several 20 years. He is committed to films on the Environment and has produced over 15 films covering subjects from Climate to Biodiscovery. His recent documentary commissions include “The Secrets Of the Kimberley, Western Australia’s Ocean Environment, and CO2 and our Coral Reefs. In 2010 his independent film My Home the Block was selected for the F4 program at the Australian International Documentary Conference and has been broadcast national. His latest work on the Kimberley has had theatrical screenings through festivals such as the Environmental Film Festival Melbourne and has been invited to festivals internationally. In the past he worked as an editor for 100meter films in Japan on the award winning feature film Firefly Dreams.

He currently runs Geonewmedia, a production company focusing on sharing science and environment communication through the power of online video. In his spare time he runs small events for the Melbourne Sustainability Professionals and TEDxStKilda.





THE SECRETS OF THE KIMBERLEY
Making the invisible Visible

Synopsis 1

Scientists and artists attempt to explore the isolated Kimberley marine region through some innovative photographic techniques and randomly discover a new natural world.

The Kimberley is one of the most ecologically diverse areas of the world. Its marine ecosystems are amongst the world's most pristine. At 424500 square kilometres the Kimberley is bigger than Italy or Germany and it has over 3000 uninhabited islands.

This documentary takes you on an expedition into this remote region with a team made up of an artist and scientists. What they find redefines their values and how they view the natural world. It showcases one of the last great wilderness areas through incredible wildlife-great and small.





Synopsis 2

On board the “Olivia J” under the command of a veteran fisherman a group of scientists and a photographer embark on a journey into one of Australia's least explored marine frontiers-The Kimberley. What they find redefines their values and how they view the natural world. It showcases one of the last great wilderness areas through incredible wildlife-great and small.

This is a look at a wild space from an angle rarely seen. The Kimberley is a place lost in time. No towns, no roads, no people. At times it has a chilling sense of loneliness and silence. A world without humans. In a strange paradox, if you look, it is teaming with life. All you need to do is get there and wait. From the mighty blow of a giant humpback whale to the crackles of armies of micro crabs feeding, this is a showcase of life great and small.This film highlights the rare species in this region through some amazing photography and describes the marine science being undertaken to improve our understanding of this incredible part of Western Australia.

Tags

Kimberley, Western Australia, Wildlife, Marine Science, Photography, Anthropomorphic, expeditions adventure, corals discovery channel, NGC, National Geographic, Geo, Nature, Wildlife photography, Humpback Whales, Whales calf, whale birthing waters, coral reefs, discovery, hyperspectral surveys, geonewmedia. Palace, Environmental Film Festival Melbourne, EFFM, Trevor Almeida.


Biography

Trevor Almeida-Producer

Trevor has been producing films, video and interactive media for over 18 years. His past documentary commissions include Western Australia’s Marine Environment, Carbon Dioxide and Our Coral Reefs. In 2010 his independent film My Home the Block was selected for the F4 program at the AIDC and has screened on the cable network through NITV. He worked as an  editor for 100meter films in Japan on their award winning feature film Firefly Dreams. He currently runs Geonewmedia, a production company focusing on science, innovation and technology digital media.



FAQ of Trevor Almeida during the making of Secrets Of The Kimberley.


How did the Secrets of the Kimberley come about and how was it financed?


This is not the kind of film we at Geonewmedia usually make.

We usually make environmental films, training films, business profiles promoting science, environment and innovation. We usually work with scientists, Indigenous communities and sustainability industries to promote their vision or products.
The Secrets of The Kimberley however was basically an independent production unsupported by any government funds or industry yet we realise it is a privilege to visit this country and make this film. The expedition and film was funded by research, a private investor and Geonewmedia. Our challenge was to reveal the values of The Kimberley Marine Region - in Art , Science and Indigenous Knowledge.


What motivated you to make this film.


I was born in Kenya and as a child loved watching wild animals in their natural environment. But when I got to the Kimberley I was totally moved with how remote and vast this region is. As we flew over we literally saw the road end.
Scientists believe the Kimberley is one of the most ecologically diverse areas of the world and its marine ecosystems are amongst the world’s most pristine. Surveys of a mere 3 islands have recorded 280 species of coral.
We have only just begun to understand its true value. I just wanted to bring this amazing region to people who cannot afford to reach it .


What did you discover from the experience of shooting the film


It still gives me shivers!

Shooting this film in the Kimberley made me realise that a lot of Australians will never experience the unique and outstanding wildlife they have in their own back yard.
Unfortunately the Kimberley is " out of reach " for most of us. This means out of sight, out of mind and that it a real shame. Getting to the Kimberley is only available to a privileged few. It can cost us $10000 just to get on a special vessel to take you there. There are no roads, the nearest air strip is on a private mine site. You need a special vessel and an experienced captain to navigate there through the unsurveyed waters and giant tides. This is indigenous country and remains one of the planets most uninhabited regions.


I was lucky to spend some time there while on the Olivia J. What we found was a unique wild world of creatures great and small.


What were the challenges in making such a film


Actually you need to be always ready when making an expedition documentary.

The biggest challenge was the giant tides. Because there vary so dramatically twice a day up to 12 meters it made getting in and out of reefs precarious and dangerous. As a result the schedule of the scientists would change all the time and we would need to re plan our sequences on the fly. Several time we would set up our time lapse cameras or shots and we would need to escape on short notice because of ruff weather or the tide was approaching too fast. A lot of the areas are unsurveyed so we had no maps to help us. Generally the camera crew had to be up before light and end after dusk so there was no time for sleep. We did most of our preparation in the afternoon when the sun was too hot for photography.

How did you manage safety


Thank goodness we had no heroes. Safety came first because if you had an accident it would be a nightmare. Helicopter would be the only viable rescue and that would take time. The rocks faces are jagged and sharp, so it would be easy to slip and slice your self. That said we did have some injuries. The second camera twisted his leg but thankfully nothing serious.


Reviews-The Secrets of the Kimberley


“ Amazing extremely well done.. very emotive” S Jackson- Innate Ecology. “Really powerful. I was moved by it! ” S Young.
“The confluence of art and science looking at an issue as important as the Kimberley….a brilliant piece of work” - R Wyatt-Think Impact.
“I loved the photography. The interplay of science and photography…Skillfully told story.” C Tafford -Alpha Green.
“People have to see it . The Kimberley is awesome!” A Foran -Hagar Australia.








Production stills.